Re: Question about parallelism in lists

Subject: Re: Question about parallelism in lists
From: Joe Weinmunson <litlfrog -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 4 May 2010 14:29:29 -0400

First off, many thanks to everyone who replied. I appreciate your
taking the time to help me. At a minimum I'll rewrite the entries for
consistency and begin each item with a task-based instruction. I may
switch to tabular format and I'll certainly move the screenshot; it
was only in the middle because I wanted to break up the "block of
text" effect in the middle of the page. I'm actually new to technical
writing as a profession--I've been at this job less than a month. I
have experience in academic writing, tech support, and internal
documentation, but this is a much bigger project than anything I've
worked on before. It is indeed fun, though so far I'm alternately
writing in bursts of activity and flailing in indecision. The page I
posted was inherited from a 15-year-old manual, but I had already
rewritten parts of it. From the sound of things, I still have a lot of
work to do. :)

On Tue, May 4, 2010 at 11:56 AM, Leonard C. Porrello
<Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- soleratec -dot- com> wrote:
> First, please accept my condolences and congratulations. Condolences for
> having inherited such a poorly written and inferior document.
> Congratulations on the opportunity to demonstrate that a professional
> technical writer is worth his or her wages.
> Several thoughts and observations:
> It's best to avoid violence in technical writing. For example, we don't
> "hit" keys; we "press" them.
> I am pretty sure that "screen" is worst name you can use for a dialog or
> window.
> I couldn't find a "Bill Codes" field. I had to deduce that "Bill codes"
> refers to "Code." Seems like an inauspicious way to start.
> I can't easily tell which fields are populated by the program and in
> which I have to enter data.
> The bullet points above the screen shot are descriptive. Several below
> the screenshot are prescriptive. I wonder why. Also, the first five tell
> me what type of control I am dealing with. Not so with the rest.
> I don't understand why the screen shot is in the middle of the page.
> In general, I find the layout unattractive and difficult to read. I
> would seriously consider information mapping the whole thing. If that is
> beyond your scope, the page still needs extensive rewriting, and I would
> suggest that you add some space between bulleted items.
> And finally, in response to your question, yes, parallelism is
> essential. Parallelism makes it easier for readers to find exactly the
> info they need. If it seems forced, you need to rethink your paragraph
> and sentence structure. Again, I would use an approach informed by info
> mapping even if I couldn't info map the page.
> Leonard

Joe Weinmunson

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or
believe to be beautiful.
--William Morris

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Question about parallelism in lists: From: Joe Weinmunson
RE: Question about parallelism in lists: From: Leonard C. Porrello

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